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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Concern over nuclear sub disposal
Submarines at Rosyth
There are already seven nuclear submarines at Rosyth
A proposal to dispose of Britain's ageing fleet of nuclear submarines at Rosyth dockyard has sparked concern among the local community, according to an MSP.

Seven decommissioned submarines are currently tied up at Rosyth and it is feared the Ministry of Defence may want to bring in 20 more, and store the radioactive material in a dockside dump until a permanent solution is found.

Every nuclear submarine contains a mini nuclear power station about the size of two double-decker buses.

When one is decommissioned, the fuel is removed and taken to Sellafield but the compartment containing the reactor remains onboard and is still highly radioactive.

A total of 11 boats have already undergone this process with seven floating at Rosyth and four at Devonport Naval Base in Cornwall.

Another 16 nuclear submarines are expected to be decommissioned in the next few years and the UK Government has invited proposals from parties interested in undertaking the work.

We are trying to market Rosyth as an international ferry port - the last thing we want is for nuclear waste to be stored just along the road.
Scott Barrie MSP

The owner of the Rosyth Dockyard, Babcock Engineering Services, confirmed it has registered its interest but local MSP Scott Barrie said people living nearby are "uneasy" about the prospect of more submarines being broken up on their doorstep.

"People are very concerned about the nuclear submarines that are currently located at Rosyth and what the long-term plans for them are - there is no plan at the moment for where the long-term storage is going to be within the UK", he said.

"If these subs are to be broken up, the nuclear component will have to be stored on a temporary basis at Rosyth."

He added: "Secondly, and perhaps more concerning, is the option to bring other subs - over and above the seven currently there - to Rosyth to be disposed of.

"At the time when we are trying to market Rosyth as an international ferry port, the last thing we want is for nuclear waste to be stored just along the road."

Mr Barrie said he would be pressing the government, along with Rachel Squire, MP for Dunfermline, to come up with a better "long-term solution".

Nuclear submarine
Babcock say the public will be consulted over any plans

A spokesman for Babcock at Rosyth said that the views of the public would be taken into account during a consultation exercise.

He said: "Babcock Engineering Services confirm that they are working with the MoD, as are a number of other organisations at several locations, towards an acceptable long-term solution to the disposal of redundant nuclear submarines.

"We understand a second round of public consultation of all options will be announced soon."

However Peter Roche, of campaign group Greenpeace, said that even if the solution to build a permanent repository for the vessels is decided upon, it could take decades to put into place.

He said: "It would take at least 25 years once a decision is taken to build a repository before one is actually built, it could even stretch to as long as 50 years.

"Anything that is stored at Rosyth could be there until the middle of the century quite easily."

The government is expected to publish the results of the latest consultation document on how best to dispose of the fleet later this week.

BBC Scotland's Alan Mackay
"Local politicians say Rosyth should dump its nuclear work"

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